Friday, December 5, 2008

Head or heart?

So, I've been spending way too much (unpaid-for) time on this recent consulting gig: the marketing analysis for the horror script.

In a nutshell, I've been impressed with the volume and breadth of this client/writer's work. The horror script, in my opinion, is competent; but, it's not my vibe. But, he's got several other scripts: another couple genre scripts and a couple more "arty" scripts. The impetus: he's got an affluent friend with other affluent friends out West, and they're possibly amenable to investment opportunities. He needs something on paper to present to them.

There are two reasons this has been taking me so long. Well, actually, three reasons.

One: The current market for horror movies, even micro-budgeted ones, is glutted. Unless his potential investors might be game for putting up $4M+ for an indie horror flick without any "name" attachments, yet, with an unrepresented, inexperienced writer - sending them the market analysis write-up I did wasn't going to do him any favors.

Two: I like movies where things blow up as much as the next fan. When I read his other genre script, a crime-action story, I debated whether I was interested enough in producing it. I needed to do some (extra) homework.

Three: I've been doing a lot of soul-searching to figure out how much "heart" I need to have for a script/project before I know in my bones that it's something I've got to be attached to.

I like the writer; I feel there's some sort of synergy there. My brain can evaluate how to break down, produce, and pursue the end-game for his genre scripts. But, my heart's definitely not in one of them, and is ambivalent about the crime-action story (I vibe to action-adventure more than the crime slant).

Have I been trying to talk myself into something, or out of it?

Don't you hate that? Days, weeks, years later, you can look back at something and go, 'Of course, X!' But, in the middle of it, duhhhh... I don't know. Ummm...

So, here's where I'm at: since neither he nor I are in love with the horror script, it's being shelved as a prospect for now. He has another genre script (sci-fi), which needs polishing, but there you have it. The research I've done so far on the crime-action genre seems to indicate that there are currently two points of entry: the $500K-750K budget and the $5M-15M budget. I need to do some research to determine whether that tendency seems to hold the same currently for sci-fi genres, too. If it does, I know how to present an overview for his prospective investors. And, if they might be game to proceed, I'll help the writer take the next steps.

In the meantime, the writer and I will take up some development/workshopping work on his sci-fi and/or "arty" script early next year. It'll be a good chance to work on something together and determine whether we have compatibility...

Re: my assertion about the glut of horror flicks in the marketplace --
Stacey Parks at Filmspecific (I LOVE her site) reported as such from the 2008 American Film Market which just closed a few weeks ago. For a Horror project to have a chance in the next couple years, it seems to me that it'll have to be produced to compete with Hollywood horror (A-list stars, or at least B+ stars, high production values, expensive above-the-line elements overall) projects. That means a little $500K horror budget is gonna have to work REALLY hard to get its audience and its money back. And, that's do-able, if you have a team behind it that really loves the genre and fan-base and prepares for an alternate distribution strategy (grass roots fan-building, word-of-mouth marketing, a web-site, genre-focused film fests, etc.).

So, if you LURVE low-budget horror, it certainly can be done. Just be aware of how hard it'll be to punch through to your audience(s) when it's time.

No comments: